Main Dishes

Porcupine Meatballs


A few weeks back, the biochemistry lab I work in had a potluck-style holiday party. The theme was old family recipes, and these meatballs were top on my list of what to bring. Nobody had heard of porcupine meatballs before, and one coworker even asked, “Porcupine??! Alejandro shot a porcupine?!” I immediately burst out laughing. Though he does like to hunt, my fiance definitely doesn’t go around killing porcupines. The name comes from the rice in the meatballs, which produces a look reminiscent of porcupine quills.


This is one of my all time favorite dishes. It is a family recipe passed down from my grandma, and my mom made it all the time when I was  growing up. These meatballs are nothing fancy, just good ol’ comfort food. The tomato sauce and Worcestershire give the beef a great flavor, and the rice produces a nice chewy texture.




1 lb. ground beef
½ cup uncooked long grain rice
½ cup water
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. celery salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce


1. Mix hamburger, rice, ½ cup water, onion, and spices. Shape mixture by rounded tablespoons into 12 balls. Cook meatballs in 10-inch skillet until brown on all sides; drain.

2. Mix tomato sauce, water, and Worcestershire; pour over meatballs. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until rice in meatballs is cooked. Add water as needed, making sure it always covers meatballs.

(Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker)


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